The title may sound dramatic, but I am entirely serious.
Remember in my last blog post, how I mentioned that I was able to alleviate my irritability with magnesium? When I’m suffering from an imbalance, it tends to express itself in being cranky rather than being down (although I’ve dealt with my fair share of both.)
Linking what I’m eating to how I’m feeling has been a HUGE milestone in my health journey and in realizing how to be at my best.
So when I realized that I’d been in a rut -- that I’d been snapping at my husband, getting frustrated at the smallest inconvenience, and in general being an angrier version of myself for no apparent reason -- I wanted to figure out the why of it.
I’d been taking my magnesium. I’d been active, surfing and exercising in the ways that made me feel fit and empowered. So why was I suddenly in such a dark mood?
Topics like these are partly why I’m grateful to be expressing myself in a blog as opposed to only Instagram. People have a tendency to assume that the brightly lit activewear and yoga flows I photograph mean that my life is perfect, and that I’m consistently a beacon of positivity.
Living a happy, healthy life is a huge part of my personality, but yes, I still end up being a bitchier version of myself when I’m having a rough time, although I’d love not to be. (It’s natural.) But alas, there was a solution!
It was a few weeks before I was able to pinpoint the culprit.
MY DIET, BEFORE
For context, I’ve been vegan my entire life and never eaten meat; I was briefly vegetarian when my family reintroduced dairy to our diet. When I turned seventeen, I made the choice for myself to go back to being entirely vegan.
I thought I was eating super healthy, but my dietary choices made me way more reliant on carbs as a source of energy. Lots of rice, vegetables, and pasta. My main protein sources were beans and tofu. (This is important for later.)
When I met my husband, Devin, I realized he was an intensely picky eater. That changed things; I didn’t give up my dietary preferences, but had to hunt for recipes and foods that accommodated the two of us.
The first problem: Devin hates beans. So for a while, I didn’t touch them either because, for the most part, we eat our meals together. I’m working from home most of the time (especially at the moment!) and he’s my best friend so I love cooking for both of us.
Thankfully, at least tofu was a Devin-approved protein source, and thus became the staple (read: only) protein we would ever eat. We ate it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But then — we burnt out on it. We got so sick of it because we ate it for every meal.
After that, we barely ate protein AT ALL. We were eating rice, vegetables, elements like that. Our diet was dependent on carbohydrates.
WHERE MY PROBLEM WITH CARBS COME IN
I’ve never had a problem with carbs on a health and fitness level. I don’t believe they make you fat, especially since you’d be SHOCKED by the volume of carbs that I’ve eaten throughout my life.
However I’ve always been the type to get hangry, and in the past two years when I was reliant on them, I got hangry A LOT. Literally, every waking moment of my day.
And even more frustrating: when I tried to alleviate my hanger by eating a HUGE (carb-heavy) meal, I would find myself even hungrier afterwards! It blew my mind. How was I spending a majority of my day cooking and eating and never feeling full?
It got to where I was constantly 24/7 frustrated.
Trying to solve my problem, I started calling dietitians and made appointments for blood work with doctors. I was eating constantly but never able to feel full or satisfied. I was worried there was something wrong with me.
Do I just have an exceptionally high metabolism? Or something worse? I’ve never had any illness or serious health issues (which I do attribute to my plant-based lifestyle) but couldn’t think of any other reason I was having this issue.
I ended up doing research on my own and learned quite a lot of interesting information.
Essentially, it boils down to this: orienting most of my diet around carbs deprived me of protein, which is what I needed to be functional. Protein not only plays a huge role in satiety, but also contains the amino acids that are crucial to several important body and brain functions. The lack of protein was creating an imbalance in my body, which expressed itself in my negative moods.
I also learned that eating carbs can actually trigger the release of the hunger hormone which — get this — is why restaurants give you bread before you get to your meal!
No, carbs don’t make me a bitch because they make me feel fat. It’s not about appearance, or media’s demonization of pasta, or any of that. It’s about how they made me feel: unbalanced.
More protein, less carbs. I started eating beans again! Side note: beans are a great source of protein for those who don’t eat meat. They have LOTS of fiber, so you always feel full. I mentioned in my previous post how my diet has never been about deprivation, but rather abundance, and this is a prime example.
But seriously, once I started adding beans back into my meals, my mood improved 110%. I couldn’t believe that it was that simple! To keep myself on track I used MyFitnessPal, a meal planner app available on Android and iOS, to strategize.
I aim for protein to be the largest portion of my meal, while still including veggies and other carbs. You have to make sure you’re getting enough of the nutrients you require to be happy and healthy.
There are also a few simple swaps I made that allow me to sneak even more protein into my meals. For example, instead of wheat pasta I only buy pasta made from chickpeas or edamame!
If you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are plenty of ways to find protein, but I still wasn’t getting enough. Don’t feel ashamed if you’re in the same boat. Listen to your body, and adjust your diet accordingly. Feel free to reach out with any questions.
Does this sound like you? Let me know in the comments or hop on over to my Instagram to chat!